Emily Columpsi

"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery" -Mark Van Doren

That’s How We Roll

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For my second meatless main dish, I really wanted to try and cook something that was out of my comfort zone. Conveniently, this week I have been on an International food kick, in particular Mexican food. Actually, my mom has been cooking Mexican related foods all week, such as quesadillas and Mexican style fried rice. As a result, I was really inspired by these flavors and therefore, wanted to make a Mexican inspired dish. I went directly to Google and started to search/look for Mexican recipes. Once again I was overwhelmed by the options. This really shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but some how every week the countless options that appear on my laptop continue to amaze me. As I was searching through numerous blogs and food websites, one Mexican dish kept on appearing: Enchiladas. It was literally calling my name through the computer screen. Therefore, I was set on making enchiladas, however, I needed to find the perfect recipe. I know that enchiladas are not the healthiest of dishes so I wanted to find a recipe that was healthier but still tasty. I came across this blog called Cookie + Kate, in which a plethora of fresh, healthy, vegetarians dishes were listed. Her recipe for Enchiladas was just perfect. So it was decided that I was making Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.

Before I started to assemble the enchiladas I wanted to make sure that I felt confident in the directions, as well as the ingredients. To be honest, as I looked through everything I felt pretty certain about this recipe. The ingredients were all very familiar and/or I have worked with them before. However, there was one thing that I was not very sure about. How do you successfully roll the enchiladas such that the tortilla doesn’t break and/or so the filling doesn’t spill out? Before I could even start cooking I needed to conduct some online learning to find out how to successfully roll enchiladas.

I found this video very helpful. The lady conducting the video used a “tuck and roll” technique. Basically, you lay the filling down, sort of in an oval shape, in the centre of the tortilla. Then, taking the two edges, which will be the ends that tuck, fold them into the middle. Then, take the edge that is closest to you, and fold it over while still pinching the two edges. Lastly, you simply roll, hoping that it is snug enough such that the filling does not spill out. Now, I know that my explanation above is probably not the clearest, so I recommend checking out the video to visually see the process. Truthfully, after I watched the video this did not seem that much of a daunting task. However, we will just have to wait and see.

After learning how to roll enchiladas, I felt like I was ready to start cooking. However, there was one more thing left to do: check to see if I had all the ingredients. As I was going through the recipe, I realized that we didn’t have four of the ingredients: spinach, roasted red peppers, feta and tortillas. Well, it was a good thing that I didn’t start cooking yet because how was I going to make enchiladas without tortillas? Anyways, I quickly ran to the store, grabbed what I needed, and headed back home. Once I got home, I laid/organized everything out on the counter so that it was easier for me to access. In my eyes, everything was ready to go.

Recipe:

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:

8 ounces jarred, drained roasted red peppers

¼ cup water

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoons olive oil

1-teaspoon sugar

Filling:

1-tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

8 ounces spinach

8 ounces frozen corn

1 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 17-ounce can diced green chilies, drained

½ cup of the roasted red pepper sauce

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Remaining Ingredients:

8-10 tortillas

1 cup shredded Jack or cheddar cheese

3 avocados (optional)

1/3 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

½ lime, juiced

Directions:

 

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In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine all of the sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth. I found that when I tasted the sauce it was very tart due to the limejuice and the raw onion flavor was very overpowering. Initially, I thought something was off, so I went back and double checked the recipe in case I missed anything or added too much of a certain ingredient. Thankfully, I did not miss anything or add too much of one ingredient. However, the recipe did state that, if you taste the sauce immediately after blending the raw onion flavor would overpower, however, that that is okay because it will mellow out with the lime after spending time in the oven.

 

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I set the sauce aside and started to assemble the filling. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and chopped onion. When it came time for me to chop the onion I recalled back all the way to week one when I learned how to successfully chop an onion. As you can see from the photo, I partly removed the bulb. I think the reason why I am still struggling to remove the bulb is because I am not placing the knife far enough inside the onion. However, chopping onions is becoming more of an easier task for me. As well, as you see from the other photo, my knife handling skills are becoming more innate. Sauté the onions for a few minutes, until the onions start to turn translucent and/or start to lightly brown. Add the spinach and frozen corn and cook until warmed through and the juices have mostly evaporated. Before I added the spinach I washed and cleaned the leaves. Once I added the spinach to the skillet I was amazed at how much it wilted. I put a good 9 ounces of fresh spinach into that skillet and it wilted to like nothing. Once the spinach and corn has been warmed, add the black beans and green chilies and cook until warmed through. Remove from heat and pour in ½ cup of the enchilada sauce and feta cheese. Mix and add salt and pepper to taste. Once everything was assembled I tasted the filling to see how it was. To be honest, it was very bland. There was hardly any flavor there. So, even though the recipe does not call for any, I added some chili powder, garlic powder and a little taco seasoning to spice it up in flavor. If by chance you decided to make this recipe, I would add some other spices.

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As the filling mixture is cooling, gently warm the tortillas so they don’t break when you roll them. This is like an old trick. When you warm up tortillas they become more pliable when rolling and are easier to work with. The easiest way to do this is to place them in a stack in the microwave under a damp paper towel and microwave for about 60 seconds.

 

 

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Before you begin rolling, take a baking pan and either butter the pan or spray with oil. As well, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. As you can see from the photo, I set up a little station so that this next task was more organized. Working one at a time, and using a ½ measuring cup, scoop up the filling and place it in the centre of the tortilla, in an oval shape. Than using the “tuck and roll” technique that I learned from the video above, roll snugly. Once rolled, place it with the seam down in your baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, placing each rolled enchilada snugly next to the other until you have used up all your tortillas. When rolling the enchiladas, the first few rolls were a little loose; it took me a while to get the hang of this technique. However, by the third or fourth roll, my technique was improving and the enchiladas were definitely more snug. I was a little nervous about this part because I didn’t want the tortillas to fall apart, and/or the filling to start spilling out. However, I was lucky as no tortillas broke (probably because they were heated through first which made them more pliable) and no filling spilled out. They stayed in tact the entire time.

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Once the baking pan is filled, pour the remaining enchilada sauce down the middle of each row of enchiladas and give the pan some little shakes to help distribute it. Sprinkle with the cheese and then place in the oven to bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted, the enchiladas are warmed through and the top of the tortillas are just crisp. Let the baking pan cool, during wish, if you want to, dice the avocados and chopped cilantro in a bowl for the topper.

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These hearty, produce-packed enchiladas mixed with the roasted red pepper sauce were truly great. I really enjoyed them! They were healthy, yet still consisted of a lot of flavor and cheese (the cheese wasn’t the healthiest but oh well). What it lacks in presentation (as seen above) it makes up for in taste. However, the sauce was still a tad bit limey, but with everything else within the dish the flavors seemed to all balance out. My family really enjoyed it as well. My mom even wanted me to share the recipe with her so that she could add it to her own recipe collection. Personally, I did not add the avocado mixture to my serving, because I am not a big fan of cilantro. However, I am curious to know what it would have tasted like with the creamy avocados and bitter cilantro. It probably is very good, but I liked mine without it. I highly recommend this recipe. It is a great Tex-Mex meal.

Well, another category complete! Next week I move onto the meat category. Personally, I am not that excited for this category because I do not like handling raw meat…wish me luck.

Adios.

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